Equispheres looking to boost additive manufacturing performance in aerospace

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Canadian additive manufacturing materials provider Equispheres is working with a California tech optimization company to drive performance improvements in aerospace. Pictured are Evan Butler-Jones of Equispheres and Dr. Behrang Poorganji of Morf3D. PHOTO courtesy Equispheres.

Ottawa-based additive manufacturing materials provider Equispheres  is heading into 2023 looking to qualify its high-performance aluminum powders and  to develop new applications that drive performance improvements in the aerospace sector.

But it’s not doing so on its own. Equispheres is collaborating with  Morf3D Inc., a California company specializing in the optimization of technology solutions for high volume additive manufacturing (AM), serving the space, aviation and defense markets. 

“Morf3D is a leading innovation partner in additive manufacturing and has extensive experience with serial production. At Equispheres, we have an emphasis on applications engineering and process optimization, so we speak the same language,” says Evan Butler-Jones, Vice-President – Product & Strategy for Equispheres. “With Morf3D applying our materials technology, we expect to find even more opportunities for AM in space and aviation.” 

The work will demonstrate how improved performance is attainable with powders optimized for high volume production printing to extend the possibilities of AM for industrial parts. 

“We constantly seek innovations in additive manufacturing that will accelerate customer adoption, solve challenging problems and drive to reach traditional cost models. This collaboration with Equispheres gives us access to materials optimized for production with proven performance benefits,” says Dr. Behrang Poorganji, Vice-President, Materials Technology with Morf3D. 

Morf3D is looking to advance all areas of additive manufacturing. This includes sourcing and qualifying materials with advanced properties. 

“Morf3D has embraced the engineering and optimization aspects that are vital to the adoption of additive manufacturing. They have a deep pool of expertise and talent, as well as collaborations with other industry leaders. We’re happy to be a part of that network, propelling the industry forward,” says Butler-Jones. 

Late last year Equispheres Inc. had also announced that it had developed a non-explosible aluminum alloy feedstock for additive manufacturing (AM) that reduces the hazards associated with day-to-day handling of materials for 3D printing. 

Identified as NExP-1, this material is specifically designed for production printing of aluminum parts. It maintains the ability to produce high-quality prints at high throughput rates, but unlike other metal powders for AM, it is dust-free and characterized as non-explosible per ASTM E1226, Standard Test Method for Explosibility of Dust Clouds, the company says.

The material is also non-combustible, per the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part 3, Subsection 33.2.1. for flammable solids. 

Equispheres says it’s “almost inaccurate” to call its new aluminum powder a powder because it’s totally free of dust and “flows like water.”

“We have achieved these key safety properties without altering the quality of our material nor the chemical composition. In printing, this material performs just as well as our other aluminum powders, but it has the added benefit of being non-explosible and non-combustible,” says Butler-Jones, adding that because this new, non-explosible aluminum material significantly reduces the hazards of day-to-day handling without sacrificing the quality of the printed part, it could reduce the barriers to industrialization of 3D printing and make the process more easily integrated into manufacturing facilities. 

“It would almost be inaccurate to even call this a powder,” he continues. “It is almost totally free of dust; it flows like water and it is easy to clean off of equipment surfaces. It is a completely unique printing media for production additive manufacturing.” 

The material is currently available in AlSi10Mg. Equispheres has developed recommended parameters for printing the new material, targeting several end-use applications.

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